Sunday, October 20, 2013

Changing Colors

The consummate fly writing writer, John Gierach, nailed it - "fisherman know that autumn isn't really a season at all, just a time of year when the seasons change."  After the dog days of August, September marks the transition, and October brings this atmospheric metamorphosis to completion.   

Now, as our hemisphere tilts twenty-three-and-one-half degrees away from the sun, the heat produced by countless photons fades. Enter fall - the beginning of the end.  But even among this certainty there is no rulebook or set quota of days that qualify as autumn.  Instead, we're given Indian summers, or September snow.  Still, darkness comes earlier as daylight inevitably dwindles, and peak colors in the trees drop to the ground and give way to a grey winter's sky.


Despite the inescapable slide, all is not lost.  Under the water a different transformation gains steam - the fish that commandeer my thoughts to the point of obsession are on the way, chasing the promise of procreation from the inland oceans and into the arteries that feed them. For today, the sun and warmth remain; the leaves - just beginning to change to brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red - hold tight to the trees.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

No Love In The Heart of The City

The irony of my pursuit is not lost on me. You might even say that it enhances the experience. I fish for a fish that does not belong here. A non-native, one might even go as far as to call it an invasive. A piscine populous whose inhabitance of this waterway can be attributed entirely to the whimsy of man. I  fancy myself as a whimsical character, though, and despite my principles - "believies" as the great Louis CK might describe them - I am happy to share the water column with them. My K-9 companion,  unencumbered by believies, passes no judgement on the lifeforms that swim beneath my fly line.

The backwardness of the situation is multi-dimensional, extending beyond the idealistic to the cosmetic. Here I stand waist deep in a watershed boasting both a consumption advisory and a "wild and scenic" designation. A mere stones throw away, sheltered by a noisy highway bridge, last night's fire smolders. Alongside the smoke there is a torn and tattered box spring, a set of ruffled blankets and a pile of soiled laundry - the home of the homeless, presumably vacated in the early morning quest for sustenance. The water, stained and brown, masks the poetry of what lies beneath: A quest for sex damned by pollution, siltation, and the perfect presentation of my fly. And the colors... purples and reds, blues and greens, spots and stripes. And silvers.

I fold all of this into the corner of my mind and focus on the currents before me while I wade into position. The low flows of summer have stolen my wading legs, my hip flexors and quadriceps quivering as I make my way to the perfect casting platform. Feet firmly planted, the cast unfolds and the swing develops.

I picture every pulse of the fly as it courses through the seam, my chest and shoulders heavy with anticipation. Another step, another cast, the rhythm sifting the anticipation through bones and nerves until it settles in my right forearm. The sun squirms through the oranges and yellows and reds that remain of the hardwoods, conspiring against me as it finds it's way to the water. Another step, another cast, and I begin to grasp the reality of the circumstance. I'm early to the party. Guess I'd better make a drink.